Oregon names 3 Bach Festival candidates

Oregon names 3 Bach Festival candidates


norman lebrecht

January 23, 2020

The eviscerated Oregon Bach Festival has finally come up with three names for its next artistic director.

They are: orchestra conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya, choral conductor Craig Hella Johnson and early music scholar Julian Wachner.

I suppose we should wish luck to whoever gets the job, though judging on past performance the ones who got away might be luckier still.

Announcement here.


  • drummerman says:

    Johnson (who I’ve worked with, albeit briefly) and Wachner are excellent choices. I’m surprised that Harth-Bedoya would be interested in the gig.

    According to the Festival website, there doesn’t appear to be a CEO. Who’s running things?

  • Larry says:

    Roger Saydack, the search chair, has actually been the MD search chair for the Eugene Symphony for the last 3 music directors they’ve hired, if memory serves. He is a lawyer by training.


  • Observer says:

    Wow. A MD search turned into a sports competition. Hopefully it will be broadcasted live with analysts, advanced statistics and slow motion replays…

    If anybody had any doubt about how clueless and disconnected the Oregon Bach Festival is left after the disastrous dismissal of its last music director, this shall put these doubts to eternal rest.

  • Richard Bloesch says:

    Wachner is the only one of the three men who is a recognized Bach scholar, and this is, after all, a Bach festival. I certainly hope they choose him.

    • TD says:

      That is a highly questionable statement. None of these three, Wachner included, are recognised for their work with Bach in anywhere that actually matters, i.e., Europe. This is just the usual parochial American positioning that will not end particularly well.

  • Wherearethewomen? says:

    All men? This is embarrassing given the number of qualified women who could have been considered.

  • fflambeau says:

    Well, that festival has been around for 50 years so that’s quite an accomplishment. Most things that old have some problems (in this case, declining ticket sales and revenue). It was founded by Helmuth Rilling.

    Let’s wish them luck.

  • JSBach says:

    Miguel Harth-Bedoya as Artistic Director of a Bach festival? You must be kidding.
    To be a proper Artistic director of a Bach festival, one should be a Bach/Baroque expert. Also, we should expect broad baroque repertoire knowledge and experience in performance practice.

    Please take your jobs seriously out there!

    • EricB says:

      Well, the problem is that they have not, up there, seriously thought the issue of whether or not they want to keep it a “Bach Festival” or if they want to “extend” it officially, as unofficially, programming as already in the past extended to contemporary composers (Penderecki…) and many other composers who are not really directly related to Bach and/or baroque repertoire.
      I’m not certain there’s an audience in Eugene who’s interested in hearing a B Minor Mass for the 40th time, especially under second-rate conductors after having heard it multiple times with Rilling.
      The problem, of course, now, is that most of the suitable candidates must avoid the place after hearing of what happened to the last candidate, and how things are now run at the OBF.

  • Will says:

    It’s pretty questionable to call Julian Wachner an “early music scholar” or specialist. He is a conductor and composer who has done all of the Bach cantatas – no small achievement, but not the fruit of a specialization in early repertoire. Apart from Bach and Handel, his repertoire is virtually all much newer.